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Animated Ultraman Movie Now In Production For Netflix

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Japan’s sentai superhero Ultraman has been around for over fifty years…but he doesn’t visit America very often. (It has happened — I’m the only one who knows that a clumsily-dubbed English version of Ultraman Tiga appeared on the Fox Box for a few weeks.) Now that Netflix has a hunger for established Japanese characters, though, this is changing.

Tsuburaya Productions is teaming up with Netflix and ILM to create a brand-new Ultraman movie…in CG this time, as opposed to the traditional live-action rubber-suit version. It’ll be directed by John Aoshima and Shannon Tindle — the latter has been involved with productions at Laika such as Coraline and Kubo and the Two Strings.

“Making this film is a dream come true,” says Tindle. “What began as an original story inspired by my love for Eiji Tsuburaya’s Ultraman somehow became an actual Ultraman film thanks to the incredible trust of the team at Tsuburaya Productions, and the support of the folks at Netflix Animation. We’ve assembled an all-star team and I can’t wait to share our unique take on Ultraman with the rest of the world.”

The central character this time is a professional baseball player who is fated to inherit the Ultraman title. Life seems pretty straightforward for Ken Sato — wake up, hit a few homers, go home, enlarge into Kaiju-kicking superhero, save the day, hit the sack. But then one of the monsters he defeats turns out to have a newborn kid that sees Ultraman as its father. Sato can’t bring himself to kill it, and figures he has the chance to raise it right.

The project is early in production and the voices haven’t been cast yet, but the idea is to hire a mix of Japanese and American actors, with the bulk of the animation produced in Japan. If an animated Ultraman on Netflix sounds familiar, it’s because a CGI anime series debuted on the streamer in 2019, but it’s unrelated to this.

And for those who worry that this means the “pure” version of Ultraman is dead, far from it. A live-action Ultraman movie from the director of Shin Godzilla is set to open in Japan later this year, and the next traditional Ultraman TV series, Ultraman Trigger, is now in production.